Q&A: Snacking and Weightloss

Q: If one is currently looking to lose 15-20 pounds but they have school all day, does snacking during the day on healthy snacks hinder your goal of weight loss?

A: This depends on many factors. I suggest you have a look at a “Ramblings On Snacks.” Let’s discuss a few factors that you should consider when trying to fit snacks into your daily eating:

1. Are you eating snacks because you are hungry, or are you eating them to increase your meal frequency? Some people erroneously believe that snacking is necessary to keep your metabolism high, prevent lean tissue loss, and control blood sugar. None of this is true. Fasting has been shown to increase metabolism, and retain lean tissue while in a negative energy balance. A lower meal frequency has even been shown to have a lower area under the curve (AUC) for blood glucose levels.

2. Are you splitting your calories up evenly throughout the day or are you eating 3 larger meals along with 2-3 “snacks” in between these meals?

3. How many calories are you taking in on a daily basis?

4. Are you hungrier with a lower meal frequency than a higher meal frequency when consuming the same amount of calories in both cases?

Basically what I’m saying is it’s ok to eat snacks, but you will have to decrease the size of your other meals so that you aren’t taking in more calories. A calorie is a calorie. If you eat more calories than you are expending you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than you expend you will lose weight.

I’d suggest you incorporate your snacks for a couple weeks. Weigh yourself and look at yourself in the mirror. Has your appearance changed? Has the scale gone down? If it hasn’t, than you will have to either take a feeding time away (by reducing meal frequency), reduce the size of your meal(s) or snack(s), or replace your snack foods with foods that are higher in calorie density.

The last option is most likely the easiest to implement. For this you would replace say nuts with vegetables and some dip. I’ve said this many times; nuts are not a good option to eat while trying to lose weight. They don’t provide much satiety, unless you eat a lot, I’m talking 500 calories worth. Try this: eat 500 calories from nuts in a sitting. Rate your feeling of fullness out of 10. The next day, eat 500 calories from vegetables in a sitting. Then rate your feeling of fullness out of 10. I pretty much guarantee the 500 calories from veggies will fill you up like crazy. Not too mention all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you will get from the veggies.

Keep the questions coming folks!

Q&A: Cardio

I’ve been getting some interesting questions, so I thought I’d start sharing my answers with you all. I welcome all kinds of questions. So hopefully more will come with time!

Q: Hi Kyle, I have a few questions about cardio.
I find that when I try a new cardio routine it is a lot easier the first few days, but can get more difficult overtime. However, if I mix it up (such as doing different types of interval training, doing some slow up steep hill, or just a long slow jog) I don’t have this problem. Why is this happening? Is it psychological or is there a physiological reason for it. Also, regardless of the cause, is constantly changing the regime superior to doing the same every day as long as you achieve the same rough intensity (such as the cardio machines calorie counter, i know its rough but i use it more as a benchmark than how much more food i can eat)


A: Cool question David. So I take it you mean that if you begin some form of new cardiovascular routine, you find it easy to complete when you first begin. Then as time goes along it becomes harder. As time goes along, are you increasing your intensity, or keeping the exact same intensity?

If your intensity is staying the same and your cardiovascular training is getting harder then something strange is happening. It would appear as if you are regressing. There could be a few reasons for this. Maybe you are doing too much cardio. Maybe one day you perform cardio first thing in the morning when you are full of energy. The next time you do cardio you do it at the end of a workout in the afternoon when you are drained. This could change everything.

If your intensity is staying the same and you are doing cardiovascular training at the same time of day, then I’d propose that you cut down on your cardiovascular training for a short period (a week maybe) and return to it.

Now, you said if you mix up your type of cardio then you don’t seem to have this problem. The reason behind this is that you won’t be able to compare say aeorbic training on a treadmill vs. interval training on a bike. They are two completely different things. One uses your aerobic energy system, and the other using your anaerobic energy system. It would be like comparing apples to oranges, it just doesn’t quite work that way.

If changing up keeps things fresh and you feel like you are progressing than I have no problem with that. Applying the “shock the body” criteria to weightlifting is a completely different story that I won’t get into now.

I’d like to touch more on how you said you like to use machines as a benchmark to see how much more food you can eat. This is a method that just won’t work for very many people. I suggest you find out what your resting metabolic rate is during a day and eat 500 calories beneath that. Don’t alter your caloric intake based on how many calories a machine said you burned.

Use your caloric restriction as the focus of your weight loss. Think of using cardio as a bonus to your weight loss. Unless you have your diet completely dialed in, and know the exact amount of calories you are taking in (with 100% adherence), should you alter your intake based on exercise. Start with the basics, once weight loss stalls then you can experiment with calorie/carb cycling.

Hope that helps.

My FMS Experience

Hey folks, I know I’ve been slacking badly on here. I promise to pick it back up. I just got home from taking taking the Functional Movement Screen in Victoria. It was an absolute blast. I learned so much. The instructor Behnad Honarbakhsh, was ridiculously knowledgeable about movement.

I just wanted to share a couple cool things I learned with you:

– Pain changes movement and creates compensation.

This means that if you have pain in a certain movement pattern, your body will alter the movement pattern to decrease pain. So if a clinician is able to decrease pain, you need to be sure that they also fixed your faulty movement pattern. Otherwise you will still have a dysfunctional movement pattern even though you’re pain free.

– Risk factors for injury include: previous injury, asymmetries, neuromuscular control, and body size/BMI

I’d say the first isn’t really a surprise to anyone. It was very interesting to see how much asymmetries can effect our body. In order to improve dysfunction, you focus on asymmetries first! They are that important.

– Children are born with stability, they ‘earn’ stability as they age. Adults lose mobility as they age.

This was a great point. Babies spend a lot of time squatting. If you’re 40 or over however, try and get down to that deep squat position and tell me how that works out for you! Another awesome thing to take away from this, is that certain movement patterns, such as the squat, can be taught from the ground up. After all, that’s how we all learned these primitive patterns as we aged.

For instance, if you try and do a deep squat, you may only be able to get down halfway. Yet if I told you to go on your back, and brings your knees towards your chest, it would appear that you would easily be able to squat. That is, the pattern looks identical, but you are lowering the stability requirements from your body when your back is on the floor. This means that you have some form of stabilization issue. Joints that should be mobile are acting as stabilizers and you are unable to perform a basic movement pattern.

– What is the purpose of the core? Stability/postural control, energy transfer, breathing, and continence.

Note how how “flexes the trunk” is missing… Stability and postural control are essentially the same thing. Stability is the ability of a body segment to resist movement in the presence of movement. For instance when you’re doing in a chin-up, your rectus abdominus is acting as a stabilizer to prevent lumbar extension. This is why you may notice you sometimes get sore abs from chins.

I’ve gone over energy transfer before. You can think of your core as linking your upper-body to your lower-body, if you don’t have good core stabilization, you will lose energy through the chain. I just made this analogy: think of your legs as a hammer, your core as a nail, and your upper-body as a wooden board. If your core stability is good, the hammer will strike the nail, the nail will maintain it’s integrity and the energy of the hammer will be transferred through the nail and allow the nail to pierce the wood. If your core stability is complete crap, the hammer would strike the nail, and the nail would bend (energy would ‘leak’), it’ll still poke a small hole in the wood, but it wouldn’t be anywhere close to the first example.

The diaphragm is also a part of the core. It’s an actual muscle! So breathing is a big part of having a nice and functional core. Diaphragmatic breathing is important, Behnad showed how proper breathing can improve your core strength. Filling your belly with air is a normal cue for powerlifters during all three of the big lifts. This isn’t a fluke coincidence, a belly full of air creates a heck of a lot of stability compared to say, a chest full of air. He didn’t touch very much on continence.

I’ll cover more of what I learned later in the week with you!